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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: homoeccentricus on April 11, 2016, 03:20:52 PM

Title: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 11, 2016, 03:20:52 PM
Having read this article https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/5-common-homebrew-flavors-fix/ (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/5-common-homebrew-flavors-fix/), plus its follow-up, I was wondering, dear judges, what the really really truly most common off-flavors are that you encounter in beers? Are there three or so flavors that stick out?
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: majorvices on April 11, 2016, 03:26:04 PM
Really surprised diacetyl wasn't on that list. That is one of the most common flavors I come across in home and commercial beers.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 11, 2016, 03:31:27 PM
There's a second article with 5 more off-flavors: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/5-common-homebrew-flavors-fix-pt-ii/
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 11, 2016, 03:47:07 PM
Big ones in approximate order of how often they seem to occur (with my own definitions of flavor descriptors):

1) DMS (creamed corn, cabbage, celery, rotten vegetables)
2) Hot alcohol / solvent (bad vodka)
3) Oxidation (wet cardboard & sadness)
4) Diacetyl (butter or butterscotch or slickness)
5) Extract twang (metallic caramel & hint of banana)

I'm somewhat sensitive to DMS, so I might pick on it more than it is perceived by others.  I don't usually pick it up in my own beers.  I think it's due to less than adequate boil rigor primarily, and I boil every batch super vigorously.

Solvent flavors basically come from fermenting too hot.  Keep it cool, eh?!

There are different forms of oxidation, but the stale form will happen to any/every beer with enough age, so it's always a possibility.

The other stuff really doesn't happen as much anymore in my experience.  Even diacetyl isn't as prevalent as much anymore, and extract twang is less and less prevalent, at least with brewers who've got a couple years experience and know to use fresh dry extract.

By the way... a personal peeve of mine.... astringency is WAY less prevalent than most judges will tell you.  I would say that 3 times out of 4 that a judge uses the term "slight astringency", they are in fact full of crap, trying to show off their judging prowess or something.  This occurs greatly with inexperienced judges but unfortunately often continues farther up the ranks.  While astringency is indeed very possible, I've experienced it many times, the term is WAY overused.  People describe it like a bitterness in the flavor.  I've even seen a Master judge use the term when describing the aroma!  Totally, totally wrong.  It's a dryness, as if you're sucking on a sponge or have been mouth-breathing in the Mojave Desert.  Can best be duplicated by chewing a while on grape skins, after the juice is all gone, just keep chewing on those skins.  That dryness, which is also a sort of spiciness, is astringency, and it's usually caused either by pH problems or by wild critters.  It's not the same as bitterness.  Be cognizant of this common error.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 11, 2016, 03:53:06 PM
I don't know why but very often when I drink relatively low quality homebrews, I  taste astringency and some phenolic off-flavors that I can't describe very accurately.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: MDixon on April 11, 2016, 04:47:20 PM
You can sense astringency, but you cannot smell, see, or taste it.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: Phil_M on April 11, 2016, 04:57:44 PM
I find astringent things make my teeth feel weird, for lack of a better way of putting it. I also notice astringency as a kinda tongue prickling sensation. Think a really tannic wine. Actually that's what I don't much care for wine.

I've yet to ever notice astringency in beer. I'm sure it can happen, but I think you'd have to really abuse your malt to get it.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: ethinson on April 11, 2016, 06:12:40 PM
I tend to be sensitive to some things that may or may not be "off flavors".  Sherry/Dark dry fruit I run into a lot, which can be good or bad depending on the style.  Imperial Stout - Good! IPA - very bad! My BJCP exams have said that I am sensitive to oxidation, so that dark dry fruit is always a warning to me, but I try really hard to not knock it as oxidation unless I pick up the wet cardboard/paper as well. 

I tend to run into grassy a lot too, which usually comes from dry hopping, and even in IPAs is usually not wanted, but sometimes it's not too awful.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: kramerog on April 11, 2016, 06:36:32 PM
If I did a list like DM, I might put diacetyl up at the top.  I encounter it at bars that are increasing their taps to include non-hoppy craft beers.  While diacetyl might not be the most common one, when I encounter it, it often is spectacularly bad.

Phenolics is probably 4th.  Usually subtle. 

Oxidation is probably fairly prevalent as lack of freshness.  It seems that many people enter bottles filled from a keg into homebrew competitions, and the result seems to be muted flavors rather than off flavors.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 11, 2016, 06:49:55 PM
You can sense astringency, but you cannot smell, see, or taste it.
True true. Some kind of harsh bitterness then, not astringency then.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: Phil_M on April 11, 2016, 06:56:00 PM
I thought of another good example of what I think astringency is: those little nasty bits from the hull of a pecan.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dilluh98 on April 11, 2016, 07:46:10 PM
I thought of another good example of what I think astringency is: those little nasty bits from the hull of a pecan.

Yes! That captures it perfectly. It's a feeling, not a taste.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: klickitat jim on April 11, 2016, 08:22:48 PM
Top 5 for me in no particular order
Acetic Acid vingary
Light Struck skunky
Oxidation wet cardboard
Diacetyl movie theater popcorn
Assorted contamination such as clorine chlorophenol, isovaleric acid stinky foot, ? musty dish water
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: santoch on April 11, 2016, 08:47:07 PM
This is what I run into most often, in no particular order

Sulphury
Phenolic
Paper/cardboard oxidation
Diacetyl
Solventy
DMS
Acidic
Grassy
Estery(too much for the style)

[EDIT - mouthfeel]
Astringent mouthfeel (not flavor nor aroma)
Hot alcohol
over/under carbonation
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: euge on April 11, 2016, 09:09:45 PM
I think acetaldehyde is one. Poorly fermented beer has an underlying vegetal flavor of raw pumpkin or melon-rind.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: chumley on April 11, 2016, 09:17:07 PM
Dankness is probably the most common off-flavor I find in home and craft brew, but usually that is the result of some chucklehead using too much CTZ hops.  ;D
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: hopfenundmalz on April 12, 2016, 03:29:51 AM
Dankness is probably the most common off-flavor I find in home and craft brew, but usually that is the result of some chucklehead using too much CTZ hops.  ;D
What, no juicy?

I kid.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: theoman on April 12, 2016, 08:26:53 AM
I don't know why but very often when I drink relatively low quality homebrews, I  taste astringency and some phenolic off-flavors that I can't describe very accurately.

I know what you mean. I do think it borders on astringency. It's like a combination too-high ph in the mash, too much high-alpha acid hops early in the boil without the body to back it up and bad sanitation at bottling. I've noticed it repeatedly in homebrews that have been given to me over the years (a couple times in my own to a lesser extent, so I believe). Very strange.

I remember first experiencing this phenomenon a number of years ago when a variety pack was given to me by an "award-winning" homebrewer. I couldn't drink any of them. It was then that I decided that I would never enter a competition.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 12, 2016, 09:09:59 AM
bad sanitation at bottling.

Interesting. How do you know that's one of the problems?
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: theoman on April 12, 2016, 09:13:30 AM
bad sanitation at bottling.

Interesting. How do you know that's one of the problems?

Purely a speculative example. I could've just stopped at "bad sanitation".
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 12, 2016, 10:35:01 AM
You are confirming my suspicions: pH too high and bad sanitation. But of course nobody will admit to the latter.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: reverseapachemaster on April 12, 2016, 11:26:31 PM
If the astringency is tannin-based then there will be bitterness with the drying sensation. Not the same bitterness as iso-alpha acid bitterness. The pecan reference is what I think of as a near-pure expression of tannins.

Locally we have very bad water. It's highly chlorinated and full of bicarbonate. A lot of local beers are made with municipal water and end up with chlorophenols and/or an unpleasant sharp minerality. Otherwise I see a lot of the same off-flavors already mentioned.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: MDixon on April 13, 2016, 12:35:33 PM
If you want to experience astringency go to your local well stocked bar and ask for a taste of Campari. Now here's where it get's tricky. Ignore the smell, appearance, and taste and just think about the sensations as you drink it and afterwards on your palate. It will not take much unless you are Italian in which case you probably had it on your pacifier as a child.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: theoman on April 13, 2016, 12:45:22 PM
If you want to experience astringency go to your local well stocked bar and ask for a taste of Campari. Now here's where it get's tricky. Ignore the smell, appearance, and taste and just think about the sensations as you drink it and afterwards on your palate. It will not take much unless you are Italian in which case you probably had it on your pacifier as a child.

I'll test this out. I never thought of Campari as astringent. Maybe the line between harshly bitter and astringent is even finer than we think. Maybe I'm not noticing because of the orange just mixed in  ;)
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 13, 2016, 01:13:13 PM
The "bitterness with the drying sensation" is useful, thanks.

Hey, maybe someone should make a Campari-gruit beer. The bitter ingredients supposedly are (a.o.?) cascarilla bark, gentian, calamus, and chinotto. Oh mighty One-True-Drew?
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: pete b on April 13, 2016, 01:21:09 PM
I drink Campari pretty often and always noticed bitter but not astringency. I'll have to check it out when I get home. I think it tastes a lot like grapefruit.
I always think of tea when I think of astringency, especially over steeped tea. Actually I thought tea was sort of the universal example of astringency. I sometimes put tea in meads to purposely create some astringency to create a counterpoint to sweetness. Astringency is definitely not always a flaw.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 13, 2016, 01:28:04 PM

I always think of tea when I think of astringency, especially over steeped tea. Actually I thought tea was sort of the universal example of astringency.

Yeah, over steeped tea is the best example I can think of, too. As said, it's more a sensation than a flavor.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: brewinhard on April 13, 2016, 02:10:26 PM
Suck on a teabag after its steeped in water for a while.  Now that is astringency.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: euge on April 13, 2016, 02:29:23 PM
When I was learning about wine, a series of brewed tea was used as an example to demonstrate the major flavors- dry, sweet, astringent, bitter, sour etc.

Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: Pinski on April 13, 2016, 03:02:35 PM
When I was learning about wine, a series of brewed tea was used as an example to demonstrate the major flavors- dry, sweet, astringent, bitter, sour etc.

That is a really good example.  Just thinking about it, teas could be a VERY useful tool in sensory practice classes. Note to self.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 13, 2016, 04:11:41 PM
I've been working my way through a bunch of beers from the NE.  Nearly every one has a heavy astringency from the hops.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 13, 2016, 05:54:54 PM
I've been working my way through a bunch of beers from the NE.  Nearly every one has a heavy astringency from the hops.
So how do you know the difference between hop astringency and other types (e.g. from high pH)?
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 13, 2016, 06:13:08 PM
I've been working my way through a bunch of beers from the NE.  Nearly every one has a heavy astringency from the hops.
So how do you know the difference between hop astringency and other types (e.g. from high pH)?

When the mouthfeel is gritty with hop particles, it's a pretty good sign!
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: stpug on April 13, 2016, 07:11:06 PM
Banana phloem bundles (those stringy strands we pull off bananas after peeling) are what I always refer people to when trying to describe the sensation of "astringency".  Ignoring the flavor of banana, what those strands do to your tongue is the sensation of astringency.  It is very drying without any bitterness. Most fruit, in fact, is astringent during it's premature stage.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: MDixon on April 13, 2016, 07:45:13 PM
I drink Campari pretty often and always noticed bitter but not astringency. I'll have to check it out when I get home. I think it tastes a lot like grapefruit.
I always think of tea when I think of astringency, especially over steeped tea. Actually I thought tea was sort of the universal example of astringency. I sometimes put tea in meads to purposely create some astringency to create a counterpoint to sweetness. Astringency is definitely not always a flaw.

The tricky part is separating the flavor and aroma from the sensation. It IS bitter, quite bitter, almost pithy in the grapefruit nature. Ignoring that it puckers the mouth and leaves the palate dry. If you don't drink some water afterwards and allow you palate to simply fade it become extremely dry. Getting someone to separate the flavor from the sensations is difficult so turn off the flavor part of the brain and focus only on the sensation.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 14, 2016, 12:41:02 PM
By the way... a personal peeve of mine.... astringency is WAY less prevalent than most judges will tell you.  I would say that 3 times out of 4 that a judge uses the term "slight astringency", they are in fact full of crap, trying to show off their judging prowess or something.  This occurs greatly with inexperienced judges but unfortunately often continues farther up the ranks.  While astringency is indeed very possible, I've experienced it many times, the term is WAY overused.... Be cognizant of this common error.

I just read Marshall's new analysis of how smart people think they are when it comes to tasting beer.  And just look how many friggin people think they are experts when it comes to tasting "astringency".  The result is disproportionate, and I believe supports my previous statements just about perfectly.  Check this out:

http://brulosophy.com/2016/04/14/under-the-surface-results-from-the-homebrewers-perceived-abilities-survey/
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: MDixon on April 14, 2016, 01:03:08 PM
I believe in all the beers I judged at the most recent competition I wrote astringency or 2 or 3 sheets in total.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 14, 2016, 01:09:03 PM
By the way... a personal peeve of mine.... astringency is WAY less prevalent than most judges will tell you.  I would say that 3 times out of 4 that a judge uses the term "slight astringency", they are in fact full of crap, trying to show off their judging prowess or something.  This occurs greatly with inexperienced judges but unfortunately often continues farther up the ranks.  While astringency is indeed very possible, I've experienced it many times, the term is WAY overused.... Be cognizant of this common error.

I just read Marshall's new analysis of how smart people think they are when it comes to tasting beer.  And just look how many friggin people think they are experts when it comes to tasting "astringency".  The result is disproportionate, and I believe supports my previous statements just about perfectly.  Check this out:

http://brulosophy.com/2016/04/14/under-the-surface-results-from-the-homebrewers-perceived-abilities-survey/

Maybe brewers who fill out Brulosopher surveys are by definition better than average?
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 14, 2016, 01:37:33 PM
Maybe brewers who fill out Brulosopher surveys are by definition better than average?

That exact thought is going through my mind as well!  Marshall says it's impossible; I do not.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: erockrph on April 14, 2016, 01:40:27 PM
Maybe brewers who fill out Brulosopher surveys are by definition better than average?

That exact thought is going through my mind as well!  Marshall says it's impossible; I do not.
Yeah, the whole article rubs me the wrong way. You can't apply a very specific analysis to intentionally vague questions.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: Hand of Dom on April 14, 2016, 02:05:49 PM
I gave my answers as below average in most of the off taste identification questions.  The only ones I've experienced are chlorophenol (in a commercial beer), vinegar (an infected dubbel I made), and diacetyl (a saison I made that tasted of peanuts).
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: JJeffers09 on April 14, 2016, 03:05:27 PM
what is the reason, possible reasons, of a slippery almost oily mouthfeel.  I have noticed in my brothers Belgian Pale Ale that it is not right.  Not dump worthy, but strange.  We cooled a SG and took a sip, and its still "green" but the texture is weird.  It stuck on my tongue for a while and was a weird sort of bitter.  Not funky, bacteria-ish, not phenolic/estery (I don't think anyway), Not buttery or cream corn, but strange.  I wish I would have pulled this up when I was sipping it.  It tasted almost like melted plastic smells, and it really, I mean really lingered on your tongue.  Any Ideas?  His recipe was thus...

82% Belgian Pale
9% CaraVienne
9% Aromatic

Tettnanger 4.2% 2oz to 25ish IBU
WLP515
Fermented at 66F Ambient holding for 3 day then a free ride to 70F and held for 4 days.  He used my Thermocouple for as a temp timer (so temps were accurate)

OG 1.056
SG 1.017

I know he used 151 rum in the air lock, and used Iodophor for cleaning.  I was not there for sanitation so I don't if he mixed it appropriately mixed at the right concentration, but something in this beer is weird.  And I know it is still early.  So anyone have any ideas?  I was thinking on telling him to pull a sample and do a diacetyl test, but I think something went wrong with his mash pH.  I was working when he mashed and showed up later for the end of boil.  I checked his pH last night and got 4.5pH, His after boil pH was 5.4.  I have never experienced this so IDK.  I do know he used all RO and used a Yellow-Balance water pro.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: brewinhard on April 14, 2016, 03:13:07 PM
  I checked his pH last night and got 4.5pH, His after boil pH was 5.4.  I have never experienced this so IDK.  I do know he used all RO and used a Yellow-Balance water pro.

Sounds to me like there is some funky wild yeast infection. That could be responsible for the "plastic" notes in the beer. How was the yeast prepared?
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 14, 2016, 03:33:18 PM
Maybe brewers who fill out Brulosopher surveys are by definition better than average?

That exact thought is going through my mind as well!  Marshall says it's impossible; I do not.

Marshall is correct.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: blair.streit on April 14, 2016, 04:31:22 PM
what is the reason, possible reasons, of a slippery almost oily mouthfeel.  I have noticed in my brothers Belgian Pale Ale that it is not right.  Not dump worthy, but strange.  We cooled a SG and took a sip, and its still "green" but the texture is weird.  It stuck on my tongue for a while and was a weird sort of bitter.  Not funky, bacteria-ish, not phenolic/estery (I don't think anyway), Not buttery or cream corn, but strange.  I wish I would have pulled this up when I was sipping it.  It tasted almost like melted plastic smells, and it really, I mean really lingered on your tongue.
So based on the rest of this thread I'll be really careful with the word astringent. That said, when you describe "oily" and "a weird sort of bitter" together, a few usual suspects come to mind. Also, consider there may be more than one thing going on in this beer. If issues start to overlap describing the flavors becomes much more difficult.

First, if mash pH was too high, then you will have astringency in the wort. As described earlier, this is a bit like sucking on a teabag.

This high pH will then carry over into the boil, which means you'll get higher extraction and tannins from your hops (and what is often described as a "more harsh bitterness"). In a more malt-focused beer this can sometimes confuse my senses as I'm trying to figure out if it's "too bitter" or "not malty enough".

Finally oily makes me suspect diacetyl. In large enough quantities, it will lend this oily/slick mouthfeel. That could also come from some sort of contamination, but given 7 days on the yeast and the fact that you say it still tastes green, the diacetyl seems like a strong possibility. Given all of the other flavors you describe it may be tougher to pick out by taste. Doing the warmer temp diacetyl test always makes it more obvious in the aroma to me.

As for testing pH, I've never had any success trying to correlate post-fermentation pH to any pH issues upstream. The brewing process is pretty robust, and from everything I've read and learned pH problems tend to "self correct" downstream, though the flavor damage that was done upstream continues through to the finished product. With that in mind, I'd suggest going back to the water profile for this beer and try using Bru'n Water or your preferred water calc to predict the mash with your grist and the water treatment that was used. I see no mention of any acid added to the mash, but off the top of my head I'm not sure what an all RO mash pH would look like with that grainbill.

Since he used RO it seems like chlorophenols would be a non-issue, but that's what I would suspect based on the mention of burnt plastic. Did he perhaps make a starter with non-treated water and then dump the whole thing into the fermentor? Chlorophenols are detectable at very low levels, so if you make a starter with untreated water that might be enough to detect it in a beer made with treated water.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: JJeffers09 on April 14, 2016, 04:41:03 PM
yeah his starter was made with DME from an old APA kit for a 1 gallon batch.  so like 5oz of DME or something. I know he was using a "Shaken... not stirred" method of keeping his yeast starter up and running.  I pitched his slurry in, and I do not know what kind of water he used.  But yeah IDK.  If he did a diacetyl rest you thinking a tank heater or electric blanket to another 10 degrees? would work? how long? couple days?  I was afraid he used bleach or something to clean out his bucket last time, but he said he used starsan in the last clean up and uses iodophor now
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: blair.streit on April 14, 2016, 04:50:37 PM
yeah his starter was made with DME from an old APA kit for a 1 gallon batch.  so like 5oz of DME or something. I know he was using a "Shaken... not stirred" method of keeping his yeast starter up and running.  I pitched his slurry in, and I do not know what kind of water he used.  But yeah IDK.  If he did a diacetyl rest you thinking a tank heater or electric blanket to another 10 degrees? would work? how long? couple days?  I was afraid he used bleach or something to clean out his bucket last time, but he said he used starsan in the last clean up and uses iodophor now
Sorry, I meant diacetyl test -- as in take a sample and warm it to about 90F in the microwave or something. Cover, swirl and smell, then sip and smell again. If it smells like microwave popcorn then you'll know.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 14, 2016, 05:33:14 PM
yeah his starter was made with DME from an old APA kit for a 1 gallon batch.  so like 5oz of DME or something. I know he was using a "Shaken... not stirred" method of keeping his yeast starter up and running.  I pitched his slurry in, and I do not know what kind of water he used.  But yeah IDK.  If he did a diacetyl rest you thinking a tank heater or electric blanket to another 10 degrees? would work? how long? couple days?  I was afraid he used bleach or something to clean out his bucket last time, but he said he used starsan in the last clean up and uses iodophor now
Sorry, I meant diacetyl test -- as in take a sample and warm it to about 90F in the microwave or something. Cover, swirl and smell, then sip and smell again. If it smells like microwave popcorn then you'll know.

I can have a hard time tasting or smelling diacetyl, but I can always detect the slick mouthfeel.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: brewinhard on April 14, 2016, 05:36:09 PM
yeah his starter was made with DME from an old APA kit for a 1 gallon batch.  so like 5oz of DME or something. I know he was using a "Shaken... not stirred" method of keeping his yeast starter up and running.  I pitched his slurry in, and I do not know what kind of water he used.  But yeah IDK.  If he did a diacetyl rest you thinking a tank heater or electric blanket to another 10 degrees? would work? how long? couple days?  I was afraid he used bleach or something to clean out his bucket last time, but he said he used starsan in the last clean up and uses iodophor now
Sorry, I meant diacetyl test -- as in take a sample and warm it to about 90F in the microwave or something. Cover, swirl and smell, then sip and smell again. If it smells like microwave popcorn then you'll know.

I can have a hard time tasting or smelling diacetyl, but I can always detect the slick mouthfeel.

+1. Unless it is an in-your-face butter bomb (which I have had from a couple local breweries).
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: AmandaK on April 14, 2016, 07:53:02 PM
RE: all this astringency chatter

Is it felt in the jowls? Then it is absolutely astringency.
Is it a bitter sensation on the tongue or palate? Probably just bitterness.

FWIW, I prefer to say "harsh bitterness" rather than astringency in the later case. It gets my point across better than saying "hop astringency" - which I don't believe is the correct terminology.

Like Dave, I see plenty of new judges claiming astringency in beers that are just bitter. A bit of education typically works well in those instances.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: AmandaK on April 14, 2016, 07:58:12 PM
In response to the original question, the 5 top off 'flavors' I see around here are:
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 14, 2016, 08:36:24 PM
RE: all this astringency chatter

Is it felt in the jowls? Then it is absolutely astringency.
Is it a bitter sensation on the tongue or palate? Probably just bitterness.

FWIW, I prefer to say "harsh bitterness" rather than astringency in the later case. It gets my point across better than saying "hop astringency" - which I don't believe is the correct terminology.

Like Dave, I see plenty of new judges claiming astringency in beers that are just bitter. A bit of education typically works well in those instances.

How would you describe astringency due to hops in beers that aren't all that bitter?  I'm working my way through a bunch of NE IPAs and so far every one has left me with an astringent mouthfeel, even though none had what could be described as "harsh bitterness".  I assume it's due to the massive flavor hopping they do.  Not only can I feel the astringency, my mouth feels like it's coated with hop particles!
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: AmandaK on April 14, 2016, 08:47:07 PM
RE: all this astringency chatter

Is it felt in the jowls? Then it is absolutely astringency.
Is it a bitter sensation on the tongue or palate? Probably just bitterness.

FWIW, I prefer to say "harsh bitterness" rather than astringency in the later case. It gets my point across better than saying "hop astringency" - which I don't believe is the correct terminology.

Like Dave, I see plenty of new judges claiming astringency in beers that are just bitter. A bit of education typically works well in those instances.

How would you describe astringency due to hops in beers that aren't all that bitter?  I'm working my way through a bunch of NE IPAs and so far every one has left me with an astringent mouthfeel, even though none had what could be described as "harsh bitterness".  I assume it's due to the massive flavor hopping they do.  Not only can I feel the astringency, my mouth feels like it's coated with hop particles!

Is that "astringent mouthfeel" in the side of the mouth, near the jowls? Then I'll say it's astringency. Do I know that it is from the hops? No. I really work to avoid assumptions in my feedback, so I still wouldn't say "hop astringency" or "astringency due to hops". Just saying those phrases is, in itself, an assumption of process.

As a side bar, I think that NE IPAs are an odd duck. On one hand, they're so chock full of hops that they are almost thick and gritty. But they're also what I'll describe as "fluffy", for lack of a better term, which may mask some of the bitterness. I'm still not sure what to think of them, outside of the fact that I don't like them... which of course means that I don't really want to do further "testing" on it. ;) I would be willing to venture a guess that since the style flies in the face of what is considered normal "best-practices" in brewing, that normal descriptors may not work very well on NE IPAs.

Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 14, 2016, 09:04:55 PM
How would you describe astringency due to hops in beers that aren't all that bitter?  I'm working my way through a bunch of NE IPAs and so far every one has left me with an astringent mouthfeel, even though none had what could be described as "harsh bitterness".  I assume it's due to the massive flavor hopping they do.  Not only can I feel the astringency, my mouth feels like it's coated with hop particles!

Is it oily or greasy in any way?  Ever lick a HopShot?  That's not astringent, that's just effing bitter!!!!  I've never tasted an NE IPA, but if it's gooey in any way, then I imagine it might be a hop oil thing, similar to the HopShot, and if so, that's still not astringency.

But, I could be totally wrong.  I'm sure someone will place an NE IPA in front of my face in the near future, many of my friends are IPA freaks even if I'm not.  Only then will I be able to figure out what's really up with this new style.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: brewinhard on April 15, 2016, 12:45:31 PM
How would you describe astringency due to hops in beers that aren't all that bitter?  I'm working my way through a bunch of NE IPAs and so far every one has left me with an astringent mouthfeel, even though none had what could be described as "harsh bitterness".  I assume it's due to the massive flavor hopping they do.  Not only can I feel the astringency, my mouth feels like it's coated with hop particles!

  Ever lick a HopShot? 

Ha!  Not yet.  But now you got me curious.  :)
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 15, 2016, 12:54:41 PM
Ever lick a HopShot? 

Ha!  Not yet.  But now you got me curious.  :)


I've read a pretty unpleasant account or two. Evidently takes a loooooong time to get the taste off your tongue.  ;D


Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: JJeffers09 on April 15, 2016, 01:21:10 PM
oh god I would imagine that to absolutely awful.  That's like saying, "Hey have you tried this drink ipecac?  Or ever tried ipecac syrup pancakes?"
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 15, 2016, 01:33:06 PM
Everyone needs to try it once.  It won't kill you, but it will edumacate you of the difference between bitterness and astringency.  I don't recall it being astringent, but it sure as hell is bitter!
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 15, 2016, 01:35:55 PM
Everyone needs to try it once.  It won't kill you, but it will edumacate you of the difference between bitterness and astringency.  I don't recall it being astringent, but it sure as hell is bitter!


I'm sure of that!  And I agree with you on the astringency issue, too - gets used more than it should.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 15, 2016, 03:21:16 PM
It's not just on the jowls and it's not oily or greasy.  What I'm getting from these beers is an almost cottony coating of my mouth and teeth and a real grape skin like dryness in my mouth.  I guess there's no way of knowing if it's from the hops or high pH, but since the beer is almost gritty I'm guessing hops.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: erockrph on April 15, 2016, 03:24:33 PM
oh god I would imagine that to absolutely awful.  That's like saying, "Hey have you tried this drink ipecac?  Or ever tried ipecac syrup pancakes?"
The Family Guy "Ipecac Chugging Contest" bit is possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen on TV.

(http://videos.snotr.com/4522-large.jpg)

And tasting Hop Shot isn't particularly pleasant, and will indeed stick around for a good, long while, but it is nothing crazy like eating a ghost pepper.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 15, 2016, 03:27:09 PM
It's not just on the jowls and it's not oily or greasy.  What I'm getting from these beers is an almost cottony coating of my mouth and teeth and a real grape skin like dryness in my mouth.  I guess there's no way of knowing if it's from the hops or high pH, but since the beer is almost gritty I'm guessing hops.

The way you describe it, it does sound like astringency.  Guess I might need to take one for the team and go buy some crappy NE IPA to know for sure.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: erockrph on April 15, 2016, 03:28:54 PM
It's not just on the jowls and it's not oily or greasy.  What I'm getting from these beers is an almost cottony coating of my mouth and teeth and a real grape skin like dryness in my mouth.  I guess there's no way of knowing if it's from the hops or high pH, but since the beer is almost gritty I'm guessing hops.

Interesting. I can't say I've had many of these NEIPA type beers, but I have had my fair share of beers with fine hop particles in the beer. I can't say that I've picked up on astringency, but it could be that the rough "raw hop" bitterness was too distracting to notice the mouthfeel.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 15, 2016, 03:30:16 PM
With all the oats and wheat in there I wonder if the crapload of suspended proteins are contributing to some of that too?
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 15, 2016, 03:33:46 PM
With all the oats and wheat in there I wonder if the crapload of suspended proteins are contributing to some of that too?

I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that.  Proteins and starches are not astringent.  Tannins are.  Hops do contain tannins, but they're typically not extracted unless water quality is super terrible or perhaps if way too much is used and added like a friggin puree, like in these NE IPAs.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 15, 2016, 03:48:00 PM
With all the oats and wheat in there I wonder if the crapload of suspended proteins are contributing to some of that too?

I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that.  Proteins and starches are not astringent.  Tannins are.  Hops do contain tannins, but they're typically not extracted unless water quality is super terrible or perhaps if way too much is used and added like a friggin puree, like in these NE IPAs.


Right. I know that wit (for example) isn't astringent. Just wondered if the high hopping levels combined with lots of suspended protein could be combining to cause this. Or as Denny said, maybe pH control is just plain sloppy. That makes more sense.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 15, 2016, 03:59:22 PM
With all the oats and wheat in there I wonder if the crapload of suspended proteins are contributing to some of that too?

I don't know if there are oats and wheat in the beers I've got.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: dmtaylor on April 15, 2016, 04:00:27 PM
I don't know if there are oats and wheat in the beers I've got.

Maybe a tablespoon of flour per 5 gallons.  I hear of people advocating that a bit.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 15, 2016, 04:01:50 PM
With all the oats and wheat in there I wonder if the crapload of suspended proteins are contributing to some of that too?

I don't know if there are oats and wheat in the beers I've got.


I don't either, Denny. I've seen several alleged clone recipes for some of those and all I've seen use ~ 20% flaked oats, sometimes wheat too. Doesn't mean that's what you had.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 15, 2016, 04:03:38 PM
I don't know if there are oats and wheat in the beers I've got.

Maybe a tablespoon of flour per 5 gallons.  I hear of people advocating that a bit.

Maybe anything, but I just can't say for certain.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: euge on April 15, 2016, 04:17:25 PM
A gritty beer just sounds unpleasant. Mouthfeel is important imo.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: toby on April 15, 2016, 05:44:15 PM
I don't know if there are oats and wheat in the beers I've got.

Maybe a tablespoon of flour per 5 gallons.  I hear of people advocating that a bit.

All of those are ingredients I've heard used.  It's a significant part of the haze.  Mistakenly assumed to be suspended yeast in a lot of them (proteins and hop matter are the haze).
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 15, 2016, 05:55:31 PM
I don't know if there are oats and wheat in the beers I've got.

Maybe a tablespoon of flour per 5 gallons.  I hear of people advocating that a bit.

All of those are ingredients I've heard used.  It's a significant part of the haze.  Mistakenly assumed to be suspended yeast in a lot of them (proteins and hop matter are the haze).

If that's true, I'm more mystified than ever about why you'd want haze.  So far, I haven't found any positives to the hazy beers. 
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: blair.streit on April 15, 2016, 06:03:09 PM
If that's true, I'm more mystified than ever about why you'd want haze.  So far, I haven't found any positives to the hazy beers.
Maybe "juiciness" is its own reward  ;)
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: toby on April 15, 2016, 07:11:19 PM
If that's true, I'm more mystified than ever about why you'd want haze.  So far, I haven't found any positives to the hazy beers.

I like some of them, even something like Tired Hands Punge that was extremely unappealing visually.  They use those tricks to give it some mouthfeel.  I wasn't as big a fan of Surly Wet due to the hop polyphenols.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 15, 2016, 07:30:26 PM
I can only conclude that these off-flavors are as much in the heads of the judges as they are in the beers themselves.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: euge on April 15, 2016, 07:35:14 PM
I can only conclude that these off-flavors are as much in the heads of the judges as they are in the beers themselves.

My thoughts. Same with BBQ judging.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: toby on April 15, 2016, 07:50:40 PM
I can only conclude that these off-flavors are as much in the heads of the judges as they are in the beers themselves.

Yes and no.  As social animals, we are remarkably susceptible to the power of suggestion.  If you have a pair of judges, and one blurts out 'Diacetyl!' while judging a beer, the other judge may suddenly pick it up (or convince themselves they now pick it up).  It's how performance 'hypnotists' stay employed.  Nobody is actually getting hypnotized, but the power of peer pressure makes them act like fools so they aren't the jerk ruining the fun.

That being said, the common off flavors/sensations are certainly real and trained judges can try to minimize those sorts of biases and tricks entering into their evaluations.  And for me, my top 5 most-encountered beer problems are:

1) Phenols (cholorophenols being most common due to water chemistry in the area)
2) Bitterness, as in harshly overdone
3) Astringency
4) Oxidation
5) Undercarbed

I encounter diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and DMS pretty rarely.  I've met plenty of people that claim to be super sensitive to one or all of them that get it practically in every beer.  I try to avoid judging with those people.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 15, 2016, 08:08:44 PM
If that's true, I'm more mystified than ever about why you'd want haze.  So far, I haven't found any positives to the hazy beers.

I like some of them, even something like Tired Hands Punge that was extremely unappealing visually.  They use those tricks to give it some mouthfeel.  I wasn't as big a fan of Surly Wet due to the hop polyphenols.

I have to admit that that mouthfeel is one of the things I don't care for.  Most of the ones I've tried so far do have a good flavor, but not good enough that I'd order a second one.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: toby on April 15, 2016, 08:28:06 PM
I have to admit that that mouthfeel is one of the things I don't care for.  Most of the ones I've tried so far do have a good flavor, but not good enough that I'd order a second one.

Do you mind sharing which ones?  Obviously an astringent mouthfeel is a negative.  The proteins are to make it not as thin as it might otherwise be since they'll mash low and sometimes bump up attenuation with straight sugars.
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: denny on April 15, 2016, 08:47:10 PM
I have to admit that that mouthfeel is one of the things I don't care for.  Most of the ones I've tried so far do have a good flavor, but not good enough that I'd order a second one.

Do you mind sharing which ones?  Obviously an astringent mouthfeel is a negative.  The proteins are to make it not as thin as it might otherwise be since they'll mash low and sometimes bump up attenuation with straight sugars.

All the ones I've been drinking lately are from Treehouse in Monson MA.  It really doesn't seem like a protein thickness....
Title: Re: most common off-flavors
Post by: toby on April 15, 2016, 09:15:56 PM
All the ones I've been drinking lately are from Treehouse in Monson MA.  It really doesn't seem like a protein thickness....
Never had theirs so I can't say for sure.